At age 6, Syque Caesar started tumbling at the Academy of Olympic Gymnastics in the former Orange Blossom Mall in Fort Pierce.
"I used to jump around and do cartwheels a lot when I was a little kid," he wrote from London on Friday via email. "My parents enrolled me right away, and I've been at it ever since."
Now, at age 21, Caesar will be pursuing the gold for Bangladesh on Saturday at the Olympics.
"When I was a kid, I definitely thought about it all the time, and it was my big goal to make it to the Olympics," he wrote. "I am so fortunate to have made it this far today."
The former Port St. Lucie resident and current University of Michigan senior battled several injuries throughout his career and obtained dual citizenship from his parents' homeland to be a part of the Bangladesh Olympic Gymnastics Team.
In fact, he'll compete injured Saturday. He tore the tendon in his left biceps earlier this month.
Still, he stuck with gymnastics "for love of the sport."
"It's what I know best, and I can't imagine my life without gymnastics," he wrote.
Caesar was born in West Palm Beach after his parents came to the United States in search of "the American dream." The family, which also includes Caesar's older sister and younger brother, moved to St. Lucie County in 1995.
He attended Lawnwood Elementary School in Fort Pierce and Morningside Elementary in Port St. Lucie before he graduated from Lincoln Park Academy in Fort Pierce.
However, Caesar didn't have many gymnastics training facility options. After the mall closed when he was 11, Caesar bounced around to Royal Gymnastics Academy and All Around Gymnastics, both in Port St. Lucie, and The Gymnastics Revolution in West Palm Beach before his dad, Quazi, a former professional soccer player in Bangladesh, became his full-time trainer.
"It got serious pretty much as soon as I started competing," Caesar wrote. "My dad was always a proponent of me going as far as I could with gymnastics, and he always made it a big deal."
Despite major injuries — ruptured ACL in the right knee his junior year of high school, torn meniscus in the right knee his freshman year of college, blown ACL in the left knee his sophomore year of college and ruptured tendon in his right biceps his senior year of college — Caesar was last year's Big Ten Parallel Bar Champion.
Even though he hasn't had much time to explore London and the Olympic Village yet because of his intense training schedule, he's been using social media, such as Twitter, to keep a kind of journal about his experience.
"It's great walking around and seeing so many other athletes from all over the world," he wrote. "It's completely surreal."
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